Zhou receives F1 call up with Alpine
By Mat Coch
Monday 28th June, 2021 - 8:39pm
Alpine Academy driver Guanyu Zhou will make his Formula 1 race weekend debut at the Austrian Grand Prix.
The Chinese driver will step into the Alpine A521 typically occupied by Fernando Alonso for the opening 60-minute practice session on Friday.
“Driving in FP1 at a Formula 1 grand prix weekend is like a dream coming true and another step closer to my ultimate goal of becoming a Formula 1 driver,” Zhou said.
“It’s going to be a very special moment. I’m preparing myself as much as I can to be ready and also ensure that I’m able to complete all the targets and plans that the team have set me to do.
“There have not been many Chinese drivers in Formula 1, so to be behind the wheel of an F1 car during a race weekend is going to be a very proud feeling.
“It’s going to be even more special that I’m driving Fernando’s car as he inspired me to pursue a career in racing when I was young.
“I’m very happy with my achievements so far and I’m very thankful for the support I have from those around me.
“My aim is to maximise this opportunity and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Laurent Rossi, CEO of Alpine, added: “The challenge for young drivers to get into F1 is incredibly hard, and we are proud to support upcoming talent on this road.
“In his role as test driver Guanyu has participated in test and simulator sessions, so running a free practice in a current car is a logical and important step for one of the Academy’s brightest stars.
“This experience will greatly help him as he makes very solid progress towards the ultimate target that constitutes a full-time F1 seat.”
Zhou joined the Alpine Academy at the start of 2019 on the back of three consecutive years in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship.
He claimed Top Rookie in his maiden season in the 2019 FIA Formula 2 Championship after securing five podiums throughout the campaign.
In 2020, Zhou recorded his first Formula 2 win in the Sochi Sprint Race.
The 22-year-old currently leads the 2021 Formula 2 series after three rounds with two victories in Bahrain and Monaco and has two further podiums to his name.
Zhou will become the first Chinese driver in eight years to participate in an F1 weekend.
The Austrian Grand Prix gets underway on Friday, with Free Practice 1 starting at 19:30 AEST.